Taarati Taiaroa & Sarah Smuts-Kennedy

Make The Park (2014)


In 2012 we began working on an idea for a temporary public artwork that would allow us to question the distinctions of public versus private space. Over the years, the project has shifted and has become concerned with how a public sculpture can move beyond being an illustration of environmental issues – to an active solution that has the potential to generate agency, a sense of community and public ownership.

As a result of our on-going collaboration, in May this year we initiated The Park (2014) with the generous support of POP — a Waitemata Local Board arts initiative. The heart of The Park (2014) is six beehives located in the centre of Auckland City. These bees and their potential flight paths assist in rethinking the concept of “a park” and individual agency in contributing to “the public good”. Typically, a park is a designated space for recreation, sport, leisure; or conservation segregated from the urban living environment. It is a defined and enclosed physical space. However, The Park  is not physically located in a single space – but is made up of many private contributions, dispersed across the city. When many private contributions are connected they become a common and collective space – The Park. To make The Park the public are encouraged to plant new or locate existing bee food sources — Pollen Hotels — photograph them and add them to a digital map/ line drawing at www.makethepark.info This digital platform is integral in the work. It helps to visualise and document the emergence of the pollen park and provides agency to the public to help shape it. Bees know no boundaries and thus this digital imagining connects private sites physically segregated on the ground to reveal an aerial network.

The work emerges through a shift in perception, collective will and action. A cognitive shift occurs when we recognise our pot plant, citrus tree, or vege garden (that we have developed independently) as not just a plant for ourselves but a Pollen Hotel which is contributing, affecting, and connected to something larger. By pulling bees into the heart of The Park, the work aims to focus attention on the inter-dependence and inter-connectedness of the Auckland economy and our local pollination systems. In doing so, it aims to shift the responsibility of the commons and public good back onto the individual and the decisions they make at home and at work. The Park is not something segregated from our domestic and work lives but weaved into and between these spaces.

For this short presentation Taarati Taiaroa will provide some background into the development of The Park and its many layers.